123 Smithsonian Institute - Delicate Pen

Owney the Postal Dog Stamp

BY jane, ON Friday, January 13, 2012

Everyone needs a friend like my friend Barbara! When I went this week to purchase a sheet of Owney the Postal dog stamps that were released in July, 2011 for my stamp collection, of course, not one was to be had in all of NYC. So, whom do I call for these kinds of dilemmas? Barbara! Barbara lives in DC and works near the National Postal Museum, which has a gift store with difficult to find stamps. Yesterday, my coveted stamps sheets arrived in the mail, thanks to my loyal friend, who knew this little acquisition meant more to me than any “normal” person.

Owney was a tatty little Irish terrier mix that became a mascot of the Albany, New York post office in 1888, when he was discovered curled up on a pile of old mail bags one day. Owney began accompanying the mail bags onto horse drawn wagons and then subsequently onto the Railway Post Office train cars all over the state and country. He even made an around the world trip in 1895. The mail clerks considered Owney was a good luck charm, for even though train wrecks were a common occurrence  back then, no train that Owney rode on, was ever in such an incident.

Owney marked his travels with medals and tags on his collar. When a certain Postmaster General John Wanamaker learned that the collar was becoming too heavy for the mutt, he created a harness to display his tokens. The circumstances of Owney’s death are unclear and not documented accurately, but Owney had become old, nearly blind and a little ornery. He died of a gun shot wound on June 11, 1897. His remains were preserved and they are on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum, the very museum where my commemorative stamps were purchased, and where one of my decorative envelopes was awarded a prize in 1999 and was on display under Owney’s watchful eyes that year. Owney wears his harness and is surrounded by his tags in the museum. ┬áCountless books, movies and stories have been written about Owney. Owney even has his own multi dimensional app!

Owney the Postal Dog’s Commemerative Stamp